Puri Sagas: A Goddess Sanctifies Sacred Logs For Shaping Holy Trinity During Nabakalebara

03 July 2019

Sangita Agarwal

Puri: Goddess Alamchandi's temple is situated in the Kumharpada area, just at the entrance of the pilgrim city Puri. The presiding Goddess Alamchandi is one of the Asta (eight) Chandis of Puri. The other seven Chandis are Vimala, Ramachandi, Harachandi, Baseli, Varahi, Dakshina Chandi and Jhadeswari. As per Skanda Purana, Goddess Alamchandi residing in the northern side of the Jagannath temple protects the Ratnavedi, (the sacred altar of Lord Jagannath). Devi Alamchandi is generally considered as one of the Asthashaktis who protect the Antarvedi on the Nairuta(South-west) corner of Srikshetra. From architectural point of view, this temple is not so significant but from the religious aspect it is one of the important Chandi shrines of Puri. Lord Jagannath ( Lord of the Universe) lives just like a human being. He falls sick every year after taking a grand bath (Snana Purnima), is treated with herbs and concoctions, moves out from his majestic temple (which discriminates people) on his annual sojourn, the Rath Yatra to give darshan to one and all. As the temple idols are made of wood, it is but natural to decay over a period of time needing replacement. So the idols are newly made after a gap of some years, and a body change-over ceremony takes place called the Nabakalebara. Normally, it should take place once in 12 years, but the criteria is that such a year should have two months of Asadha. So it tend to change every time, the shortest period being 8 years and the longest being 19 years. The Daitas (servitors) then scout the State to bring the logs required for the purpose. There are many specifications about the environment, location, height, age and other details of the trees which should be thoroughly checked before they are brought into Puri. During Navakalevara festival, the carts loaded with the sacred Daru (wooden logs) are brought into Puri via the road in front of Alam Chandi temple. As per the tradition, after getting agnyamala (permission) from Goddess Alamchandi the Sacred wood gets inside Puri. It is believed that Goddess Alam Chandi is supreme to sanctify the logs so that no harm is done at the time of shaping them to form the figures of the Trinity, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra.

Famous festivals like Durgastami, SatapuriAmabasya, MakarSankranti etc. are observed in this temple. Priests of Alamchandi temple carry traditional prasad to offer Lord Jagannath on the eve of MakarSankranti.